Professor Dominique Belpomme

When Jean-Michel Jacquemin-Raffestin asked me to write the preface of his new book on Chernobyl, I must admit that I had been hesitating for a long time. I am a scientist, and the content of the book is not a product of science. It goes deeply into the trash cans of history. But there are exceptions, and the book represents one of them. It is linked to a journalistic investigation. It recalls how, after the catastrophe, public and political authorities in our country coped with the crisis linked to the consequences of the radioactive cloud, and how a certain part of the scientific intelligentsia behaved.

The absence of transparency, disinformation, and sometimes even lies have been at the heart of communication problems; just like for asbestos, Chernobyl has an educational dimension. In an absurd way, the existence of the cloud above our country was first denied, and once the idea of the cloud became uncontrollable, figures were then lied about. It led to the consequence of not taking major measures to protect the more exposed of our citizens (particularly children and pregnant women) by compelling them to take oral iodine tablets to avoid future thyroid problems. We all know which extreme failure this kind of social denial could lead to if it were not fiercely denounced.

This is the reason for the preface that comes after the one Théodore Monod had written for the author’s first book: That famous cloud … France contaminated [1].

Today, Théodore Monod is not anymore. But he delivered a message that I have the task to transmit as a physician, and that the ARTAC [2] vehicles as well, that of The call of Paris: If we carry on polluting our planet as we are doing it now, it is the whole human race that shall disappear. Chernobyl, other similar accidents, and nuclear power more generally, largely contribute to that pollution. But understand me! What I denounce today is not nuclear power because we will probably need it for the years to come, even if it is taken for granted that it will be essential to make energy savings and to use renewable energies. I denounce the lack of transparency, lies, and eventually the absence of political courage. Saying that there is no danger with nuclear energy is nonsense just as it is nonsense to say it represents the origin of all the trouble. In terms of evaluation of the sanitary risks, we must probably underline that a physicists’ approach is not that of physicians’, and vice versa. In terms of health, even for the most well-informed specialists, extrapolations and predictions are extremely difficult, even impossible to make. Therefore, my friend Maurice Tubiana’s optimist estimations have fiercely been criticized by Nobel Physics Prize Georges Charpak in his last book [3], whereas according to our own ARTAC estimations, we think that Georges Charpak’s are still most certainly underneath reality due to the biological heterogeneousness of the distribution of radioactive doses in organisms as well as in irradiated populations.

And it is probably necessary to honour Youri Bandazhevsky although it is impossible to scientifically evaluate his work due to the lack of information concerning his detention. A detention that appears in itself as a real scandal. But here again, understand me! If it seems possible that artificial radioactivity (nuclear explosions included) may have caused several hundred thousands of deaths by cancer in the last 50 years (without taking into consideration induced genetic disorders and infertility problems), nothing indicates that today, in our country, Chernobyl has had as an important impact as some people would say or, on the contrary, that there has been none, as institutional organizations would like us to believe.

The truth is that we do not really know, and it is most likely that we never will with certainty, so complex some scientific analysis are, and they also need to be conducted in full independence.

This is what I expressed in “The Rotten Fruit Fable”[4] according to which some very small doses of radiations may interact with other environmental factors, and this is also the reason why the ARTAC currently leads its own scientific investigation in Corsica.

But what is serious here is the dreadful mismanagement of the crisis that has generated doubts in our fellow citizens’ minds, and that they have consequently lost confidence in their political leaders as well as institutional, and even scientific people in charge.

The book is a day to day testimony of what authorities should not have done. For the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl, let’s wish for the book all the success it deserves.

Dominique Belpomme



 [1] Éditions Sang de la terre 1998.

[2] ARTAC Association pour la Recherche Thérapeutique Anticancéreuse 57-59 rue de la Convention 75015 Paris - web :    mail :

[3] Georges Charpak,  De Tchernobyl en Tchernobyls,  Odile Jacob – 2005.

[4] Dominique Belpomme  Ces maladies crées par l’homme  Albin Michel.